31 deaths: the results of a Quebec nursing home in the event of a pandemic reflect a global phenomenon

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MONTREAL – Thirty-one people were found dead in less than a month in a nursing home in Montreal, at least five confirmed people infected with coronavirus – a powerful Canadian emblem of how nursing homes are among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

In the United States, 17 bodies were recently discovered in a long-term care facility in New Jersey, among 68 residence-related deaths, 26 confirmed as coronavirus cases. And it was in a long-term care facility in Kirkland, Washington, that the Americans first saw the horrors to come after residents fell ill with Covid-19 in late February.

The phenomenon has also been observed across Europe. In Spain, soldiers sent to disinfect retirement homes have found abandoned and even dead people in their beds. Italy, Britain and France have acknowledged that their official statistics ignore many deaths from the virus in long-term care facilities.

The deaths in Canada were discovered late last week at Residence Herron, a private home for the elderly in Montreal, after local health officials alarmed by the shortage of staff and the spread of the coronavirus to the home, have taken control of the residence.

Mr. Legault blamed Herron’s management for the disaster, saying that after the residence was informed last month that a patient had tested positive for the virus, she refused to cooperate with the regional health authority, l ” requiring a court order and delaying intervention. .

By the time a team of health workers arrived on March 29, the coronavirus had already invaded.

Résidence Herron is owned by a Quebec real estate company, Katasa, which owns six other retirement residences. A company spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations of negligence.

But Katherine Chowieri, whose father, Samir Chowieri, is the president of Katasa and who is a director of the company, denied the negligence of the local media, telling them that she criticized the health authority for not having held account for calls for help from the residence while staff remained in the midst of a shortage of protective equipment.

Patrizia Di Biase-Leone learned on Tuesday that her mother, Antonietta Pollice, who turned 97 on March 11 and has dementia, tested positive for the virus. She said the residence had clouded her mother’s condition, even though she suffered from symptoms such as diarrhea, dehydration and hallucinations.

“Of course, we are seriously concerned about our mom,” she said. “She is emaciated and loses the will to live. We don’t get any cooperation. What are we doing? Call the cops?

Résidence Herron’s brilliant website boasts a nutritionist for personalized meal plans, a café bistro, a hairdresser and full-time nursing staff for her elderly patients.

But families of residents said in interviews that for several years they had seen their loved ones deprived of basic necessities such as diapers, exercise, proper hygiene and healthy meals, despite a monthly cost of 3000 to 10,000 Canadian dollars to stay there.

When the coronavirus spread to the home, they said, they struggled desperately to get information about their loved ones, while their calls to test their loved ones for the virus were ignored.

This is not the first time that Herron’s services have come under scrutiny. Last year, a report from the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services warned that palliative home care was lacking.

In 1981, Mr. Chowieri, the owner of Residence Herron, was convicted of drug trafficking, serving approximately 15 months in prison. A year later, he was found guilty of fraud. In 1994, a retirement home he owned was investigated by the national police for money laundering. And in 2002, he was fined $ 125,000 for tax evasion.

Frédéric Lepage, company spokesperson, said that Samir Chowieri’s criminal record was struck off in 2014 due to good behavior.

Leane Conti, whose mother, Carole Stewart, 79, is partially paralyzed and has been bedridden at the Herron Residence for two years, said staff repeatedly refused to remove her mother from her bed to bathe her properly, which resulted in leg and foot infections.

She said she was reprimanded by the residence for her mother “urinating too much and using too many diapers.”

After her mother fell with a fever in late March and was sent to a nearby hospital, Ms. Conti said she finally learned from the hospital that there was a case of coronavirus at the residence.

Ms. Stewart was returned to the Herron, where Ms. Conti said she was not quarantined, pending the results of the tests. She has since tested positive and been hospitalized.

“When I learned there were 31 bodies in less than a month at the Herron, I was shocked but not surprised,” she said.

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